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Published on July 22nd, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Etched Octodraws for Expedit

Materials: Expedit 4 draw unit, wood stain, wood cladding, laser or Acetone

Hacked Expedit draws with etched detail (for a fiver!)

Although this looks a bit fancy it’s actually very cheap and easy (although you will have wood stain under your fingernails for days).

1) Select an image you like – I used this vintage image of an octopus from Graphics fairy (google her it’s fantastic). Even better she cleans up a lot of the images to black and white, I took the image and split it into 4 equal bits in photoshop making the next step easy.

2) I laser etched my draws as I work with them all the time and I could do it for free (well I had to babysit my bosses kids while doing it but free enough). To do this I needed to vectorise it in a program called 2d. For those who want to know the process is below. If you don’t have a laser I think it would work if you got a toner image (use old photocopier), place the paper image down on the wood, soak the back with Acetone and then gently peal the paper off.

3) Right now you’re ready for the wood. I wanted originally to use solid wood but couldn’t afford it so bought two packs of B+Q pine panelling for £2.48 a pop. Cut them down into 33cm panels. Each draw requires 4 of these strips. Cut the bottom strip down to 5cm high making sure you cut of the groove not the tongue so that it still fits into the grove of the plank above it (experience talking here!)

4) Put together 3 full size bits and your little skinny bit to make a 33cm square panel. Pop in the laser, line the image up on the screen and press print. Wait 13 minutes, change over the image and repeat. Soon you will have 4 draw fronts. Just make sure to remember the image is in the centre so you need to put the image bottom right then bottom left then top right etc.

5) Cut 8 33cm square bits of ply. I got some from work which we found out too late was highly flammable and couldn’t be cut on the laser – on the plus side it was free to me.

6) Staining – forget everything about applying stain in nice even swoops. SOAK a rag in stain and rub it into the etched area like a person possessed or it doesn’t get in the detail of the etch. Then you can sweep the cloth over the rest of it working in the direction of the grain. Get a dry cloth and the rub the whole thing hard to remove excess stain. Rub arms to remove ache.

7) Glue glue glue. Cover one side of the 33ccm ply boards all over with glue. Put glue in the grooves and on the tongue of the wood. Reassemble the strips of wood and then press down hard onto the boards (I put something protective above and below them and sat on them a while…)

8) When dry take your draw front and a plain bit of ply (this is why you needed 8). Put your draw front face down on something soft, place the plain ply on top of it and then hammer a tack in about two thirds of the way down the draw. This will give you a draw front that can be slotted over something such as the Kajsa boxes that I already had although it should work with Drona as well.

9) Add handles, I used some strips of scrap leather from the leather specialist on our high street. I bought a bag for £5 and used one of the nicer bits so I guess I should add 50p on for that. I just made a loop and nailed it onto the back of it then flopped the loop over the front.

10) Done – well I waxed it to give it a shine and also to lighten the large areas of wood to make the etch more pronounced. Hope you like it, if not be kind as I’m very new to the world of DIY and hacking.


How to vectorise the image – click Bitmaps – import bitmap you then open the picture and type 330mm into the size box. Bitmap – set to monochrome. Bitmap – vectorise bitmap. Reduce Luminance down to 90, click okay, change to custom settings and click off the bottom three tick boxes, whap the conversion quality to high and then leave and make yourself a cup of tea while it chugs away. For those bored out your mind or thinking eep – it takes about a minute to do this process if the picture is nice and clear. 2d is the program most schools use for teaching small people how to do graphics.


~ Ruth Abbott, Somerset

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

19 Responses to Etched Octodraws for Expedit

  1. A lass says:

    Freakin brilliant!

  2. would love to feature your dresser, please let me know if this would be ok with you,

  3. Anonymous says:

    beautiful job! seriously! I have never even heard of a laser used this way… but then again I do not need any more hobbies.. :)

  4. Lim says:

    WOW!!! This is AMAZING!

  5. Lacey says:

    I just did this on some old pallets that my husband nailed together. I didn’t have a laser but I transferred the image using an inkjet copy and water. Than I just pressed and rubbed and then I went over it with a wood burner, by hand. VERY tedious, but am happy with the outcome. Thanks.

  6. Ruth A says:

    Hi Guys – thanks for all the comments I didn’t even realise someone had popped it on Ikea Hacks (I submitted it but was rejected, think I formatted incorrectly). Only realised it today when I was right on the edge of giving up with another hack so you guys have spured me on!

    Sorry about the draws/drawers thing – very dyslexic! Also gloves! face palm. Totally should’ve thought of that…

  7. Bart says:

    Awesome, but I’m holding out for a picture of Cthulhu on my Expedit closet :D

  8. msouth says:

    Absolutely beautiful! You could have a side business selling these, I have no doubt. Final look is so classy–I think it might have been to your advantage that you ended up using paneling, I think that just adds to it.

    One tip I thought of might be to use latex gloves while you’re staining to avoid the perma-brown fingernail effect.

    Again–this came out beautifully. Congratulations!

  9. Seven11 says:

    Nice work – I like the stained look of the wood! It creates a pretty modern but rustic look.

    Keep going!

  10. nika says:

    great work!! really!!
    i like it! :)


  11. wwax says:

    I love the etching, heck that would look great as a piece of art on the wall. The whole unit looks fantastic. If I had any idea where to find a lazer etcher I’d steal/borrow this idea in a heart beat. Great work.

  12. Moontree says:

    i love the image on the rough looking wood, and i loved it more when i saw all the beautiful laser-etched detail. Gorgeous. I’d love to have this sort of thing on a “real” piece of furniture (sans ikea, sorry)

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great idea! Congrats for the effort and detailed explanation.Have you consider making a video about the process and posting it on Youtube?
    Keep on hacking!!! ;0))) Thank you

  14. Cassandra says:

    “Draws”? Cute accent, but it would have flowed better as drawers.
    Great hack, though. Looks gorgeous!

  15. severusslave says:

    This artpiece of a hack looks gorgeous! But what’s even more fun: Your style of writing. I giggled a lot. :D

  16. annzeta says:

    It looks awesome. I want to do something similar for a headboard, but I’m in the dark where etching is concerned. The technique with the toner looks interesting – I may give it a try.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Like? You bet… Best thing I’ve seen in here for quite a while.

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